There has been a clamour for the removal of section 29(4b) that says “any woman who is married shall be deemed of full age”.
A women’s rights group, Women Empowerment and Legal Aid, WELA, has called for the prosecution of Ahmed Yerima, a former governor of Zamfara, for marrying a 13-year-old Egyptian girl in 2010.
The Coordinator of the group, Funmi Falana, made the call on Tuesday while briefing newsmen in Lagos.
Ms. Falana said the marriage violated Section 23 of the Child Rights Act of 2003, which had been domesticated in Abuja, where Mr. Yerima was living.
“We call on the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Mohammed Adoke (SAN) to ensure that Yerima is prosecuted.
“If the Attorney-General does not take up the prosecution within one month, WELA will apply for a private fiat to prosecute him under Section 23 of the Child Rights Act”.
She said that if Mr. Yerima was prosecuted, it would send a strong message to other protagonists of child marriage in Nigeria.
Ms. Falana also urged the Senate to delete Section 29 (4) (b) from the 1999 Constitution.
The section states that “any woman who is married shall be deemed of full age”.
She said: “Looking at the section, it will be discovered that the judicial interpretation goes beyond child marriage.
“Regrettably, the interpretation of that section is that, any girl child who is married is deemed to be an adult and can, therefore, be presumed to have criminal liabilities.
“She can, therefore, be entitled to vote and be voted for in an election. She has the right to own property.
“That is the dangerous implication nobody has gone ahead to look at”.
Ms. Falana called on the 12 States which have not adopted the Child Rights Act, to do so without any further delay.
She said early marriage, apart from disrupting the education of the girl child, constituted a danger to her health.